Saints Executive Vice President and General Manager Mickey Loomis on the Saints Podcast presented by SeatGeek
March 27, 2020
Welcome to the Friday edition of New Orleans Saints podcast presented by SeatGeek, and today we have with us Saints Executive Vice President and General Manager, Mickey Loomis. Mickey, we can't imagine how busy you must be at this time of the year. I guess that leads to the first question and that, how are you working remotely? How are you handling this, considering the amount of work that you guys need to put in right now? How are you handling working remotely?
"Well, it's not my favorite thing. But listen, we've got our IT guys, and Jeff Ireland and our group have done a great job of using technology that's available so that we can Marshall on."
DeShazier: Obviously, it is significantly different, but have you had to work through these kinds of conditions before for any circumstance?
Loomis: "I don't really recall us having quite this level of you know, being disconnected. I guess from the rest of our group. That we're not in the same room. Not having conversations face to face. But listen, we've had adversity before, and look at it's nothing compared to the adversity that our health care industry and the people that are out on the front lines are dealing with right now. So I don't even like complaining about it. Because of the circumstances that exist. Listen, you know, we're getting a lot of things done. We'll be ready to go when the time comes for the draft, and yeah, that's where we're at."
DeShazier: News broke. I guess week and a half, two weeks ago, that Coach Payton, Coach Sean Payton had tested positive for the COVID-19 (Virus). What were your conversations with him after that?
Loomis: "Well look, I think almost all that just had to do with how he's feeling and is he on the path to getting better. And listen, Sean did a great job of keeping us informed where he was at and how he was feeling. And look, we're just thankful that he's recovered."
DeShazier: Now, Mrs. Benson has spoken highly of you about how impressed she has been with your leadership through this time, and you were the general manager of the Saints in 2005 when hurricane Katrina struck. You talked about lessons learned from that ordeal. How different is navigating through this pandemic with people scattered and being held apart and yet needing to operate as much as you can, business as usual?
Loomis: "Well, I think, first of all, the similarities are, is that it's adversity. We've got a lot of great people in the organization that are able to focus on tasks at hand. I think the difference here though more than anything else is that it's affected our entire world. And, look certainly all of the NFL world, but all of the world. And so that's everyone is dealing with this kind of adversity in some form or fashion. And you know, again, as I mentioned the health-care industry and those people that are out there in the front lines are true heroes here for us. We're grateful for them. But look, when it's all said and done, we'll have learned some things. We'll have identified some things that we could certainly do a lot better. But I think that's for the review after the fact. Not while we're in the middle of it right now. We're just trying to get our work done. Trying to make sure that all of our people are cared for, No. 1, and then that we're taking care of our responsibilities, secondly."
DeShazier: A couple of other things that we, we hear prominently about the Saints are culture and character. Now with those two things in mind, culture and character, what are your thoughts, I guess, on the character you've seen displayed from the likes of Mrs. Benson with her donation to Zion Williamson with his donation to Drew Brees and Brittany Brees with their donation. What does that say, I guess about the character of the people that are employed by the franchises?
Loomis: "Well, I think, first of all, it says a lot about their personal character more so than anything about the organization. Man. Along with a lot of other people have stepped to the forefront to help. Obviously you know, they have resources to do that. A lot of people are helping in other ways that don't have quite as many resources. So look, I'm just looking forward to all of us coming together and beating this together. I think that's what we have to do."
DeShazier: Hey, can you walk us through the beginning of the free agency process considering the social distancing policies that were in effect at that time?
Loomis: "Most of the work was fortunately already done before free agency began. And then it's just a matter of look making calls, working deals. And the only real logistical issue at the beginning of free agency was just that you couldn't have face-to-face meetings. You couldn't bring in players for physicals. And a lot of times after that initial rush, guys are looking for the right circumstance and situation, and the teams are looking for guys that fit their building. And so a lot of times those are face to face meetings. When you bring someone in, you interview them, you talk with them, you just discuss the vision that you have for them, and you see if it's a good fit. That really hasn't been able to have happened. But look, we've adapted and really the only real issue has been, you know, the physical part. And we've had a couple of deals that have fallen apart because of a, because of that."
DeShazier: So let's get into free agency a little bit. Drew Brees' extension looks like a win-win for player and organization. Does that piece need to be in place for the rest of the puzzle to take shape and free agency, or you know, how vital was that getting that part of it done?
Loomis: "Absolutely. We need to know what Drew is going to count on our cap this year. What resources are we using because then that, you know, that gives us the ability to do some other things. Look to Drew's credit. His No. 1 goal was to make sure that we had an opportunity to improve our roster, keep our roster together, improve our roster, and be as competitive as we can be. So, I'm certainly appreciative of how he's handled that contract the last couple of times. Because again, you know, the most important thing to him is that we have a competitive team."
DeShazier: If we can, just get a synopsis, I guess a quick synopsis on a couple of free agents? Malcolm Jenkins?
Loomis: "Malcolm, obviously we're very familiar with Malcolm and Sean's discussed, I think we've all discussed that, man, looking back, we wish that we hadn't let him out of the building some years ago. But look, he really, really still a good player on the field. Great player on the field. But, the things that he brings to the table in terms of leadership and intelligence and competitiveness. Man, that's hard to replace when you lose it. And certainly, it's a win for us in terms of those attributes coming into the building. So look, I'm looking forward to having Malcolm back on our team."
DeShazier: Now, how about Emmanuel Sanders, who has been a very, very productive player and Super Bowl appearances have followed him, or he's followed them everywhere he's been in his career. But what will he add to the mix?
Loomis: "Well look, he's been, obviously a really productive player. You know, again, you mentioned it. He's been a winner a lot of places that he's been, and he's a veteran. He'll provide some leadership in that room. Along with, Mike Thomas and some of the other players that we have. He's a veteran presence. And just another weapon that I know Drew will take advantage of, and I know that he's excited about. So look, one of the best things is that I think Emmanuel is really excited to be with the Saints. Now that he mentioned that, his grandmother's a fan of the Saints, and was excited to hear that he's coming to play here. So, that's always a positive when you have someone that comes in that wants to be with you and, and would be one of his top choices."
DeShazier: Yeah, we talked to him. He sounds like it's going to be hard to keep his grandmother off the field more than anything. Now, with Andrus Pete, how critical was it, I guess to re-sign him, because he's the guy who is a quiet guy. But, he let it be known. Hey, I started with the Saints, I want to finish my career with the Saints?
Loomis: "Look, Andrus is - one of his great attributes is his versatility. He's been able to kick out to tackle, and we've had to had to use him in that area. Look, he's been in the Pro Bowl a few times, at guard. So look, we're excited to have him back. Excited that it was a deal that we could manage under our cap. Look, he's still a young player too. So, there's still room for improvement and growth on his part."
DeShazier: OK. I'll throw one last name at you here since we won't go through the entire free agency list, but you know David Onyemata. Who is, they really, really soft-spoken guy. Is he that soft-spoken around you guys? Cause you know, sometimes we got to lean in, because you can barely hear him?
Loomis: "David's really soft-spoken. He's one of these guys that let's his play do his talking for him. But again, David has, as you know, guy we drafted. A guy that's developed and improved every year. He's very serious about his craft and look he's a super guy to have in the locker room. A super teammate. And again, another young player, still relatively young that that's got room for improvement. He's gotten better every year and very productive. So, we're really excited that he was able to - that we were able to get him resigned for the foreseeable future. And listen, I would say going into this, I don't know that I expected to be able to get David and Andrus, resigned. So, I'm really happy that that happened."
DeShazier: Now, I don't know if you can or can't address anything about Taysom Hill and the tender to him. But, I guess going forward, I guess it's obvious that speaks to what you guys feel about him as a player and as a person. But, how do you see his, the vision for him going forward?
Loomis: "I think Sean's been very clear that Taysom has been valuable player to us offensively. Plans to use him again in the similar roles that we've done in the past and yet also has a vision for him being our quarterback in the future. So, that all speaks to why we tendered him at the level we did. And look, Taysom's another guy that I know wants to be back here, back with the Saints. So, hopefully, we can make that happen on a more permanent basis."
DeShazier: He's obviously a unique guy. Are you seeing more of that around the NFL? You kind of hear whispers every now and then and maybe a little bit louder of people looking for a Taysom Hill type. Are you seeing some of that kind of develop in the NFL when people are looking for those multi-dimensional kinds of players, like a Taysom Hill?
Loomis: "I think yes is the answer to that, No. 1. I do think though that in the past there's been teams, New England in particular, that has taken guys and used them in multiple roles. But yeah, you do here it. Look, a lot of times out of our own building you hear, hey, this guys like Taysom Hill, or some version of that. So, I do think that, look, teams are always looking for ways to get the most out of their roster. And, when you have someone that can fill multiple roles, obviously, that's what happens."
DeShazier: Now you brought in and retained several key free agents, but also some guys find elsewhere whether it be and A.J. Klein or Teddy Bridgewater or Vonn bell. But, each one of those guys speaks extremely highly of the Saints. Does that give you a source of pride to hear players even when they depart, have such great things to say in high regard for the franchise?
Loomis: "Well, I think yes, obviously that's what you want to have happen. I want guys, we all want guys to have a great experience in their time with the Saints. And look, I would say that we have equally great things to say about Vonn bell and A.J. Klein. And look, a lot of the players that have passed through here and then moved on to other teams. We appreciate their play and the things that they've contributed to our success and wish them all the best."
DeShazier: You mentioned that the draft is going on as scheduled. Does that make, you know, because you can't have pro days and visits? So what does that place added emphasis on what you gleaned from the senior bowl and the combine?
Loomis: "Listen, what we're doing now. We're still collecting information on these guys, and all likelihood won't have as much as we normally do. But we've also got a lot of information already, and Jeff and our scouting staff and our coaches are all continuing to work hard on this draft class, and we'll be, we'll be prepared when the time comes to draft."
DeShazier: Now we know the Saints like to get a lot of things done in free agency, which they've done again this year to position themselves to kind of draft the guy who just is simply the best player in their pool at that pick. Do you feel pretty confident that you guys are in that position right now?
Loomis: "I think there is still work to be done, and we've got roughly 30 days before the draft. So, there's still free agents out there. So I think again, there's work to be done in terms of free agency. And there's work to be done in terms of draft preparation. But, absolutely, that's our goal."